Comments: Superb detail, perfect decals, weight of top wing may require replacing main struts
In late 1916, the demand for a durable observation aircraft capable of performing ground attack missions led to the introduction of the Junkers J.I, the first combat aircraft with an all-metal airframe. The German Air Force used it successfully for ground attacks and short-range reconnaissance missions from its debut in the summer of 1917 until the end of World War I. Designed to withstand punishing ground fire, the forward section of the fuselage housing the engine and aircrew was built entirely of steel plates. The remainder of the airframe, including the corrugated wings, was dura-aluminum, with the exception of the fabric-covered control surfaces.
While the all-metal construction of Junkers’ J.1 provided the intended rugged ground attack platform able to absorb considerable punishment, it was a very heavy aircraft requiring an exceptionally long take-off run to get airborne. Once in the sky it could be hard to maneuver, in part because of the limitations of the available powerplants of the day.
Maximum speed: 96 mph or 155 km/hour
Weight Empty: 3,893 lbs. Weight Loaded: 4,797 lbs.
Length: 29.7 feet
Wingspan: 49 feet
Height: 11 feet
Rate of Climb: 3,280 ft. in 12.2 minutes
Powerplant: Benz Bz IV of 200 hp
(For details on the kit right out of the box, please see the Junkers J.1 Kit Preview)
Great care must be taken with this kit, even when initially examining the sprues, due to the relatively high number of delicate plastic parts. You start off using the photo-etch fret immediately. The cockpit and engine are assembled together and consist of 27 parts, 12 of them photo-etch. The cockpit detail is exceptional, and includes PE parts for the control column, seat belts, even armrests for the pilot’s chair! Each of these metal parts requires one thing above all: Patience.
Eduard’s J.1 is well-engineered, and most of the assembly is trouble-free. The observer’s machine gun is a bit challenging; I lost the drum magazine to the carpet monster and had to fashion a replacement from sheet plastic. There are photo-etch parts for the barrel sleeve, gunsight and ammunition belt as well as the magazine itself. My one major complaint about the layout of the instructions has to do with the placement of a diagram telling you where to drill holes in the fuselage to accommodate the struts. There are only eight steps to the instructions, some of them rather complex, and the diagram does not appear until after Step 6. The kit is fairly far along by then, as Step 6 calls for mounting the upper wing. Ideally the drilling diagram would be right up front so that you can get it out of the way at the start, before too many delicate parts have been cemented to the fuselage.
During construction, I discovered two essential parts were damaged: one of the main struts, and the landing gear axle. The latter part I was able to repair, but the strut was a write-off, being broken clean through, and I had to scratch-build a replacement for it and its opposite number. Other parts had to be scratch-built once I lost them in the carpet.
Owing to its nearly all-metal construction, the Junkers J.1 did not require bracing wires, unlike most other biplanes of the day. However, there is a pair of rather thin struts on either side of the pilot’s position that connect to the upper wing above. The kit parts provided broke in short order, so I made new ones from stretched sprue. On the actual J.1, these struts were too thin to support any weight of the wing, and their only purpose appears to have been to help the pilot enter and exit the aircraft, which must have been a somewhat awkward exercise given that his cockpit was entirely beneath the Junkers’ large wing.
Here, the two thin struts that helped the pilot enter and leave his position in the aircraft directly beneath the center of the wing are just visible.
The real hurdle with this kit, as with most biplanes, is attaching the upper wing to the lower, and aligning the struts correctly in the process. Eduard’s diagram for this step contains no less than 10 connecting struts and can be intimidating.
To start off, I limited my focus to 4 of what appeared to be the main load-bearing struts and cemented those on first, connecting them to the bottom wing with cyanoacrylate glue. As the glue set, I positioned the upper wing over the lower and adjusted the struts according to where they’d need to make contact. I waited about 10 minutes, then put a dab of c.a. glue atop each of the 4 struts, and lowered the upper wing into position until it made contact, checking to be certain it was centered. I had no other supports in place to take the weight of the upper wing, so I adjusted the attitude of the fuselage by raising the tail and using two Humbrol tins to support the elevators, allowing the upper wing to dry on a level plane without sliding around. Since I did not use anything other than the 4 struts to disperse the weight of the wing, I do not think this would have been possible using the kit struts, which are pretty delicate. Of the 4 struts that took the full weight of the upper wing while the glue dried, two of them were scratch-built replacements of sheet plastic that were stronger than the originals.
Most of the photo-etch parts were relatively easy to work with, requiring more patience than anything else. It was the smaller plastic pieces that gave me trouble, since they had a propensity to pop out of the tweezers more so than the smallest metal parts; with this kit, I spent more time than usual on my hands and knees with a flashlight, trying to locate a part that fell to the carpet and immediately, inexplicably vanished. I found only about half of what I lost –at least four parts had to be refashioned from sheet plastic.
For the camouflage scheme, I used a base color of Gunze Sangyo Dark Green (Dunkelgrun/H73). I added Violet, which I mixed using 4 parts Model Master RLM 24 Dunkelblau, and 1 part Model Master Navy Red – both acrylics; and finally for the small splotches I switched to a Humbrol enamel, Red Leather. The underside is Gunze Sangyo Hellblau, another acrylic. The cockpit and engine bay interior were painted with a Vallejo acrylic, RLM02 Grau. For many of the smaller parts such as the engine, cockpit interior and machine gun, I used a mix of Humbrol and Model Master enamels.
Eduard’s decals for the J.1 are really excellent, on par with the home-grown Italian ones found in Italeri kits. I chose the markings for Jasta 586/18 based at Villers la Chevres in 1918. They were perfectly in register, providing the best of both worlds, being thin and rugged. I had a mishap or two with a couple of them and expected them to tear, but they never did. And they were actually eager to lay flat and stay in place, prompting me to get their placement right the minute they made contact with the plastic. They’re amenable to positioning once they make contact, but not for long. The national markings for the wings responded well to their corrugated surface. I did not use the lozenge pattern decals provided for the rear fuselage because to my eye the colors did not ring true — for those who chose to use them, they will require a bit of trimming, but I would recommend aftermarket lozenge decals instead, such as those
made by Techmod.
This was both my first Eduard and my first ProfiPack kit. The quality was excellent and I highly recommend it. For its cost, the kit is amazing in its level of detail – Eduard may hold with the view that if you’re willing to put in the work, your pocketbook deserves a break. Eduard in my opinion sets a standard that many other manufacturers aspire to, but don’t quite achieve. No modeler should tackle this kit, though, unless he brings an abundance of patience to the modeling table. The many small plastic and photo-etch parts, the need to think outside the box while attaching the upper wing, plus knowing when to follow the sequence of the kit instructions and when to deviate from them, demand a blend of patience, skill, and dumb luck. This kit will demand the utmost from the modeler to live up to its potential – and still it’s a blast.
- Eduard instructions; www.theaerodrome.com